Edward Herrmann, who died Wednesday morning at age 71, was known to a lot of people as the grandfather on the beloved series “Gilmore Girls.” To others, he was the head vampire in the 1987 horror-comedy “The Lost Boys.” But Herrmann’s greatest role, based on the prestige of awards notice and the longevity of its impact, was as the 32nd president of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Herrmann, whose upper-class cadences made him a perfect match for the distinguished-sounding Roosevelt, first played the president in the 1976 TV movie “Eleanor and Franklin” and the sequel, “Eleanor and Franklin: The White House Years."
The two TV movies earned Herrmann his first and second Emmy nominations and forever linked the actor with the president in audiences’ minds.
He was called back to portray FDR once again a few years later in John Huston’s film version of the musical “Annie.” In fact he got the role specifically because of his masterful performance in the TV movies just a couple of years before.
Then, years later, Herrmann was recalled to narrate the 2005 documentary “FDR: A Presidency Revealed.” And in 2014, he played FDR once again, reading correspondence and speeches as the president in Ken Burns’ multi-part documentary series “The Roosevelts.”
In an interview with AV Club in 2012, Herrmann said he had rented a room near FDR’s home in Hyde Park, N.Y., and watched every piece of newsreel he could find on the president.
“It’s something I look on as a gift,” he told the site. “And people still talk about it.”
Follow me on Twitter: @patrickkevinday